As prepared for delivery
Three years ago this body recognized the importance that science and technology will play in the 21st century economy and took action by passing the America COMPETES Act of 2007.
We heeded the warnings of the National Academies Report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm; American students were falling behind in science and mathematics, and with their falling grades went our ability to remain competitive in a global economy.
That is why I offered amendments three years ago to help students from low-income rural and urban areas get the support they need to pursue careers in science, technology, math, and engineering.
But we aren’t through the woods yet. Today we renew our commitment to maintaining America’s leadership by considering this reauthorization.
This bipartisan legislation is exactly the sort this Congress should be focusing on. It’s about the economy, it’s about jobs, and it’s about preparing for tomorrow.
I want to take a moment to mention a particular component of this legislation of which I am particularly proud to have contributed.
Earlier this year I introduced the 21st Century Graduate STEM Education Act, which is now incorporated into this bill.
We need to do everything we can to ensure that our students, at every level, have the best STEM education in the world so that they can enter the workplace and thrive.
The grants created by this act will help equip graduated students in the STEM fields with the skills and knowledge for careers in a variety of settings outside of the traditional academic track.
I want to see more Ph.D. and Masters level scientists and engineers teaching in schools, providing the next generation of students with a solid foundation in math and science.
I want to see them in federal laboratories, developing breakthrough technologies.
And I want to see them in industry, driving America’s high tech sectors including the clean energy sector.
This legislation will help that happen. This small investment in today’s graduate programs will pay dividends for the American economy for years to come.
Consider it a down payment on our economy. This is the right thing to do today so that our children can compete tomorrow.